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Rep. Brenda Lawrence announces she will not seek reelection

Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) arrives at a vaccine mobilization event before Vice President Harris takes the stage at the TCF Center in Detroit in July. Lawrence plans to retire from Congress at the end of her term, becoming the 25th House Democrat to decide against seeking reelection in 2022, she announced Tuesday.
Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) arrives at a vaccine mobilization event before Vice President Harris takes the stage at the TCF Center in Detroit in July. Lawrence plans to retire from Congress at the end of her term, becoming the 25th House Democrat to decide against seeking reelection in 2022, she announced Tuesday. (Andrew Harnik/AP/file)
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Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) announced Tuesday that she will not run for reelection, in the 25th retirement by a House Democrat as the party faces tough odds in the midterm elections.

Lawrence, 67, is a four-term member of Congress and serves as vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee. She has spent three decades in public service. In 2001, she became the first woman and African American to win election as mayor of Southfield, Mich.

“Today, after reflecting on my journey — and, oh my goodness, what a journey — and having conversations with my family, I am announcing that I will not be seeking reelection to Congress,” Lawrence said in a video she posted to her official Twitter account Tuesday night.

Lawrence noted that she will serve out the remainder of her current term and thanked the people of Michigan’s 14th District “who placed their trust and vote in me — in me, just a little Black girl from the east side of Detroit.”

“You made me your congresswoman,” she said. “It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to be your voice in Congress and to fight for our communities and issues in Washington, D.C., on a national platform.”

How redistricting is shaping the 2022 U.S. House map

Late last month, Michigan’s independent redistricting commission approved new maps that will define the state’s congressional districts for the next 10 years. The state will have 13 districts, one less than it currently has.

A group of current and former Black lawmakers plans to file a lawsuit to block the implementation of the new maps, arguing that they violate the U.S. Voting Rights Act and the Michigan Constitution in part because the state will no longer have two majority-minority congressional districts, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

In her video announcing her retirement, Lawrence alluded to the battle over the state’s new districts, emphasized the importance of representation, and urged voters to continue supporting Black candidates.

“As we have a new redistricting map, a new generation of leaders will step up,” Lawrence said. “We need to make sure our elected officials in Michigan and across the country look like our communities. It is not lost on me that I’m currently the only Black member of the Michigan congressional delegation, in both the House and the Senate.”

Rep. Bobby Rush to retire after three decades in Congress but vows he is ‘not leaving the battlefield’

Earlier Tuesday, another prominent Black lawmaker, Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), announced that he will retire after 30 years in Congress.

Lawrence said that while she is not certain what her next step will be, her “journey is far from over” and that public service “will be the guiding light.”

Republicans cited Lawrence’s retirement as a signal that Democrats are worried about their party’s midterm prospects.

“It sure seems like a lot of senior House Democrats don’t think they’ll be in the majority after the midterm elections,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Mike Berg said in a statement.

Lawrence’s Democratic colleagues hailed her work on Capitol Hill and in her community.

“Over her four terms in the House, Congresswoman Lawrence has been a force for equality and justice for all,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement Wednesday. “As a leader of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus and the powerful Appropriations Committee, she has long fought to lift up working women and communities of color — from better maternal health care, to more apprenticeship opportunities, to action on gun violence, and more.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said in a statement that with Lawrence’s retirement, “Congress is losing an incredible public servant, trailblazer and leader.”

“We have worked together on so many issues, including launching the transformative community behavioral health initiative that is bringing mental health and addiction resources to Michiganders,” Stabenow said. “While I will miss working with my dear friend in 2023 and beyond, I know she will do so much good in Michigan in whatever she chooses to do next.”

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